Lee Smolin: Evolution Has A Better Chance

Cosmology is not Darwinian evolution, is it? Well, cosmologist Lee Smokin seems to think so! In fact he says he got his inspiration from none other than Richard Dawkins by using “fitness” in the Darwinian hypothesis as a means of understanding the origin of the universe.

He writes

“String theory brought the landscape issue into focus but, as we have seen, it was inevitable that as physics progressed we would have encountered the problem of explaining how the universe chose its laws. We can call this the generalized landscape problem. Whether string theory is the right theory of unification or not, it is clear that this general landscape problem must be solved.”

“But as we have seen, this problem can only be solved if we abandon the idea that ultimate explanations in physics are to be given in terms of laws organized according to the Newtonian paradigm, with timeless laws acting on a timeless space of states.”

“As Wheeler, Dirac and Pierce understood, laws must evolve to be explained. It is likely also that the absolute distinction between laws and states must break down14. Our mandate is then to invent new kinds of theories that answer these challenges, while staying true to the demands that theories make predictions by which they can be falsified.”

“The still open problem of giving string theory or M theory a background independent formulation that would be the setting to resolve the landscape issue should be re-examined in this light. The main lesson which can be drawn from the successes and failures of attempts to resolve the landscape problem surveyed here is that theories which embrace the evolution of laws have a better chance to make falsifiable predictions than do theories which try to hold onto to the notion that law is eternal.

Laws of nature or the universe are put in place for a purpose, rather than a mindless act. Could have Apple invented the IPhone over billions of years with random acts that somehow appear which then are chosen for fitness?

Quantum Mechanics: Is It Anti-Creationism?

Sir Isaac Newton (1642/3–1727) who is one of most well-known scientists of all time, who wrote more about the Bible than science, he was a creationist who discovered the laws of motion, gravity, and cooling. He invented the reflecting telescope and was the co-inventor of calculus. However, there were some problems that classical physics invented by Newton could not explain.

For example, an experiment which was conducted by Michelson and Morley (1838–1923)  showed conclusively that there was no difference in the measured speed of light regardless of direction. Then along comes Quantum mechanics. Einstein’s theory of special relativity was able to solve this problem. In other example, classical physics prediction of black body that acted like a ‘vibrator’ with certain modes, which had different frequencies with the same amount of energy proportional to temperature.

It worked well for low frequencies, but predicted that the radiation would be more and more intense at higher frequencies, working its way towards infinite energy which is of course impossible! Max Planck (1858–1947) came along and he was able to solved this faulty prediction. He proposed that they could have only discrete amounts of energy proportional to the frequency. A formula known as Planck’s constant (E = hν).

Physicist Louis-Victor-Pierre-Raymond, 7th duc de Broglie discovered another important concept of quantum mechanics. Just as energy of vibrators and electromagnetic radiation was quantized into discrete packets with particle-like properties, de Broglie proposed that all moving particles had an associated wave-like nature. This discovery lead to the invention of electron microscopes where smaller objects could be observed that previously were not able to be seen with optical microscopes.

There have been concerns by Christians about Quantum Mechanics, such as New Agers coming up with mystical, and moral-relativistic views about it and have form special groups to combat QM as a whole. However, Einstein and Schrödinger didn’t like the mysticism of a supposed “observer collapses the wavefunction”.  So is Quantum mechanics anti-creationism? Answer: No! The evidence through the use of operational science has enabled scientists to solved problems within classic physics. It didn’t overturn it where it was rendered totally useless. In fact its concepts are still used today.

Quantum mechanics is operational science which doesn’t deal with explanations about origins unlike the author himself deciding to inject his own interpretation by giving another theory or explanation the credit. Quantum mechanics really works, and has been strongly supported by verification through experiment. There is no logical reason to oppose it. This is not like the ever-growing complexities as a result of numerous falsifications in the explanation of evolution, in fact it’s quite different. Operational science in itself is not anti-creationism, instead it’s a tool to gain knowledge. Quantum mechanics is a great field for Christians who are interested in physics and would like to become scientists in their own right in this area giving God all the glory!

Cells Designed To Use Important Physical Mechanisms

It’s an amazing thing that cells are designed to use physics or otherwise we would not be able to exist. Two papers (here and here) were published in PNAS not long ago. Harland, Bradley, and Parthasaranthy studied the forces working in cell membranes. Lipid bilayers provide the structural framework which gives the cell membranes movement. It was previously believed that simple Newtonian fluids were able to keep them intact.

But researchers have found evidence to the contrary…“we find that membranes are not simply viscous but rather exhibit viscoelasticity…” which is a type of deformation which exhibits the mechanical characteristics of viscous flow and elastic deformation. The membrane is stretchy and it requires something to pull it apart. “The fluidity of membranes is crucial to functions such as the assembly of proteins into signaling complexes and the controlled presentation of macromolecules at cell surfaces…”

In other words, we could not live without membranes that are designed on how to take advantage of viscoelastic properties. Last September, UC Davis studied quantum mechanics – the Complex I macromolecular complex which was recently discovered machinery that resembles intelligently man-made in having a railroad-like piston and coupling-rod mechanism. The piston creates a proton gradient which then drives the ATP synthesis. It requires energy from food and stores it as chemical energy in ATP molecules for energetic activities in the cell. From humans to one-cell animals like bacteria, this is a vital important process for the existence of life!

Hayashi and Stuchebrukhov discovered that Complex I takes advantage of electron tunneling – a phenomenon in quantum mechanics…

“The whole electronic wiring of complex I is obtained by combining tunneling pathways of individual processes, as shown in Fig. 3.  It is clear that specific peptide residues serve as electronic wires connecting neighboring Fe/S clusters; individual electron tunneling paths involve up to three protein residues, including two cysteine ligands and one additional key residue (Table 1).  Notably, the clusters in the protein are oriented in a specific way—corner to corner—with Cys [cysteine, an amino acid] ligands mostly pointing toward each other, which is clearly the most efficient way to transfer electrons from one cluster to another.”

Did scientists drag into this incredible discovery the evolutionary story to remind us that this came from a non-thinking process?  Well, they did decide to show it could not happen by observing what happened with mutants when they tested them and then came out with this conclusion…

“The key residues identified in this study as mediators of electron transfer (Table 1) are remarkably conserved among different organisms.”

These cells are designed with precision of these machines.  The efficiency of electron transfer in Complex I , for example, it depends on precisely-placed amino acids and water molecules down a fairly long chain. The fact is these amino acids are unevolved which means altering them would cause major problems including causing death. Creationists and evolutionists recognize mutations as a process that occurs but genetic drift and stabilizing selection are level or downhill processes.